UK - Ship Owner Pleads Guilty

Monday, November 03, 2008

UK - Ship Owner Pleads Guilty

At a hearing yesterday in Folkestone Magistrates Court, the owner of a coaster pleaded guilty to three Merchant Shipping safety offences following a collision with the East Goodwin Light Vessel on 27th February 2007.

The Antigua and Barbuda registered coaster, Jerome H, was on passage from Dagenham in Essex to Belfast in Northern Ireland. In the early hours of the 27th February 2007, the vessel struck the East Goodwin Light Vessel. The collision seriously damaged the light vessel which had to be removed from station for repairs. The Jerome H continued on to Belfast.

Investigations showed that the Mate was alone on the bridge. He had been doing paperwork on an aft facing desk in the moments leading up to the collision. It was also discovered that the routine onboard was for the designated lookout to remain below in the mess room.

Further investigations showed that the vessel did not have adequate charts onboard for the voyage between Dagenham and Belfast. It also had inadequate charts for the next voyage.

The owners of the Jerome H, Helms Reederai Jerome H KG of Wilhelmshaven in Germany, pleaded guilty to a breach of Rule 5 of the Colregs (failure to keep a good lookout) and two breaches of the ISM Code (failing to provide adequate charts and failure to comply with regulations concerning the provision of lookouts at night). They were fined $5,884 (£3700) and ordered to pay costs of $20,672 (£13000).

The magistrates said “They took into account the serious nature of the collision. They also took into account the serious nature of the damage to the light vessel which is situated in one of the busiest shipping lanes. When not in use, this puts other vessels at risk.”

Mr. Paul Coley, Assistant Director Seafarers and Ships at the MCA, said, “This collision was caused by the failure to keep a good lookout. It resulted in a major navigation aid being severely damaged. The Mate was alone on the bridge of this vessel in contravention of UK, Flag state and International requirements. The regulations are clear that a lookout is required on the bridge at night.”

Vessels should be manned and operated so that this fundamental requirement is maintained adequately within their maximum allowed hours of work.

(Source: UK Maritime Coastguard Agency)


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